The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball schedule was released in full last week with the announcement of dates for ACC opponents. The non-conference portion was already known, but now fans know the full slate with dates to match ACC teams.
We’re just five weeks away from the first exhibition game, but as everyone is still busy celebrating the football team’s early success, we’ll gently remind you that basketball season is indeed almost here.
With that in mind, the TNIAAM team discussed the schedule as a whole, including some of the games we’re looking forward to the most.
What are your general thoughts on the schedule?
I think the construction of this year’s non-conference schedule makes sense for a young team. While it lacks in big name programs, there will be some experienced squads who will push and challenge Syracuse.
It’s good that a young team like this year’s Orange will start off with some cupcakes sprinkled in the non-conference schedule. That should give JAB an opportunity to try out a bunch of combinations and figure out what his long-term starting five will be.
I’ve already detailed how important the first part of the basketball season will be for the Orange with so many new faces and tons of questions marks facing the team. With the first exhibition game taking place in just over a month, head coach Jim Boeheim will enter the 2022-2023 season with two paths to take. On the one hand, Coach Boeheim could use the early part of the season to experiment with different lineup combinations and rotations. The Orange’s first four games are against Lehigh, Colgate, Northeastern, and Richmond. It’s a pretty easy schedule, and Syracuse could afford to use these games as test cases for closing lineups and seeing which combinations of players works well with each other. However, as always with the ACC, the conference schedule will always be competitive. Every win counts for a team like Syracuse, and not getting off to a hot start (similar to last season) could result in the Orange sandwiching themselves in the middle of the pack again.
Syracuse did a sound job with the non-conference scheduling. It makes sense to have a softer non-conference slate with a relatively green team. Tougher opponents were already penciled in with The Empire Classic, ACC/Big Ten Challenge (Illinois) and Georgetown and that should balance nicely with Bryant, Lehigh, Northeastern, Monmouth, Oakland and the usual New York teams.
As for the conference slate, Syracuse won’t be seeing much of North Carolina teams. Repeat opponents are Virginia, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech along with annual “rivals” Pittsburgh and Boston College.
Mid, at best, there.
What’s the toughest or most important stretch of games?
When ACC play begins I believe the stretch from Tuesday Jan. 3 @ Louisville to Monday Jan 16th @ Miami will be pivotal for this team’s post-season stretch. Over those two weeks, they will also play at Virginia and host Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Those five games will tell us a lot about how the Orange will match up with projected NCAA squads in the ACC.
The stretch to start 2023, from Louisville to Miami, is also my biggest focus of the upcoming season. If SU can come out of that 3-2 it will say a lot about what hopes to be a quick turnaround.
In terms of the ACC schedule, the most important month for the Orange will be January. Between January 7th and January 30th, Syracuse will take on Virginia twice, Virginia Tech. Twice, Notre Dame, Miami, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina. If the Orange can get off to a strong start to begin their ACC schedule, they could be a team to watch for in the ACC Tournament.
Since everyone above more or less agrees on the early conference schedule to start the new year, I’ll say Syracuse has a real chance to end its conference slate on a high note and stack some Ws before the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. That’s always an important stretch, but with four of the last six games at home against NC State, Duke, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest — with road games at Clemson and Pittsburgh sandwiched between — Syracuse has a chance to enter March with some momentum, something we haven’t seen out of this program for some time with what’s usually been a backlogged, made-for-TV schedule.
What home games are you looking forward to the most?
In terms of the best home game I think the Notre Dame and Duke home games on Saturdays will bring big crowds but don’t sleep on Bryant on Thanksgiving weekend. It will be fun as we watch Syracuse square off with Charles Pride and Doug Edert.
The easy answer would be home games against UNC and Duke (it really does suck that the first will be on a Tuesday), but I’m going with that final game against Miami. After Syracuse had not one but TWO embarrassing blown leads against the U last year, a win there could put those demons, and the feelings from last season overall, behind for good.
Without a doubt, I’m looking forward to the slate of six games that will determine how Syracuse fares against the ACC this year. Between January 30th and February 22nd, the Orange will take on a gauntlet of talented ACC rivals: Virginia, Boston College, Florida State, NC State, Duke, and Clemson. This stretch of games will conclude right before the ACC Tournament begins in early March. It’s also the Orange’s most competitive part of their schedule. Duke will always be a marquee game, Florida State and Clemson were difficult to stop last season, and NC State and Boston College are no slouches either.
Bryant will be a fun non-conference game as Kevin mentioned. But the answer is North Carolina and Duke, right? Both programs fresh off a Final Four but with new head coaches in the dome for the first time. What’s not to like?
What about you? What do you think of the schedule? Join in on the discussion in the comment section below.